What is Subjunctive Mood

What is Subjunctive Mood

Mood is a grammatical category that indicates how the verb should be considered. Mood indicates whether the sentence is an order, fact, wish, hypothetical condition, advice, etc. There are three major moods in English grammar. They are imperative, indicative and subjunctive. In this article, we are going to focus our attention on the subjunctive mood.

The subjunctive mood is used to express wishes, suggestions, advice, commands, and conditions. In other words, it is used to convey hypothetical conditions and situations. Many English learners, as well as native English speakers, find subjunctive mood a confusing area in grammar. This is because the conjugation of some verbs varies noticeably.


You have to omit the ‘to’ from the infinitive form of the verb to form the subjunctive.

Indicative: You must go there.

Subjunctive: It is essential that you go there. (go – infinitive)

It is important that he drink two glasses of water in the morning. (be – infinitive)

It is imperative that the class begin now. (begin – infinitive)

The subjunctive mood can be also used in negative, continuous and passive forms.


He insisted that Jane not be present the meeting.

I suggest that you not quit the job without finding another one.


My mother demanded that I be allowed to continue my education.

I recommended that she be hired immediately.


It is important that he be waiting at the railway station when they arrive.

It is essential that a car be waiting for him at the airport.

Another major difference can be noted in the ‘if’ conditions. This is mainly relevant to the first person singular subject. (I)

If I were you, I’d do the same.

I wish I were there to have a drink with you.

In common usage, many subjunctive sentences are being replaced by non-subjunctive forms. Many subjunctive sentences in this article, might even sound incorrect. This is because of the rare use of the subjunctive in modern English.

What is Subjunctive Mood

He ordered that we go out.

Examples of Subjunctive Mood

Hypothetical conditions

If I were in her position, I would commit suicide.

If I were the president, I would declare Friday a holiday.


I wish I were rich.

She wished she had a car.

Commands or demands

My boss demanded that I return to work immediately.

She insisted that they compensate her for her loss.


He suggested that I discuss this with his parents.

The doctor recommended that Jeanne reduce her daily sugar intake.

Statements of necessity

It is important that you be there at 10.30am.

It is crucial that I submit this assignment on time.

You might have notice from the above examples, that adjectives like important, crucial, essential, crucial, necessary are often used with the subjunctive mood. Verbs like demand, command, insist, recommend, suggest, wish, and order are also often in the subjunctive mood.

Subjunctive Mood – Summary

  • Subjunctive Mood is used to express hypothetical conditions and situations.
  • It can express wishes, suggestions, advice, commands, and conditions.
  • The form of a verb in the subjunctive mood may differ from the form with the same subject in other moods.

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